Sex Tourism Kenya

Sex Tourism in Kenya

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Sex Tourism: A Never-Ending Menace at Kenya’s Coastal Region

Kenya attracts millions of tourists annually as it offers everything from white sandy beaches to big game safaris. A substantial number of tourists come from Britain, Italy, the USA, France, Germany, and China. Tourism accounts for 10% of Kenya’s GDP and provides employment to hundreds of thousands. However, tourism has its dark side as it has promoted sex tourism. The major coastal towns affected by sex tourism include Malindi, Kilifi, Diani, and Mombasa.

Sex Tourism Kenya

Causes of Sex Tourism

Sex tourism continues to spread across most developing nations, including  Brazil,  the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Kenya has now joined the bandwagon. Poverty pushes young men and women into commercial sex exploitation hence increasing sex tourism.  Kwale county’s minimum wage is less than $1.50, and this lays down a foundation for sexual exploitation. Malindi is another coastal town marred by the dark ghost of sex tourism. In 2011, the World Bank poverty index report showed that out of the 1.1 million people in the region, more than 70% live on less than $1 a day.

In most of the coastal towns, commercial sex work is seen as being acceptable, including that of children. Parents and relatives applaud children who date white tourists, as that is the easiest way out of poverty. Most families encourage their children to look for tourists who will take them out of poverty.

Prevalence of Child Prostitution

A 2006 report by UNICEF showed that one in every three girls aged 12-18 in the coastal region works as a commercial sex worker. Despite these figures dating back more than ten years, little has been done. The major drivers of the illegal trade include increased corruption within the county government, and weak law enforcement frameworks.

The Pope Francis Rescue Centre, located in Watamu, aims at challenging parents who pimp off their children to rethink their actions. In Watamu, young girls engage in teenage sex and this opens for them a platform to own huge mansions purchased by the old white tourists. The luxurious lifestyle offered by the tourists  has made most young men and women to seek old white men and women.

Role of Leaders in Promoting Sex Tourism

Some of the coastal leaders even support the social acceptance of commercial sex work. The leaders view this sexual exploitation as being of substantial economic benefit to the region. Emma Mbura, the Mombasa senator, was once quoted requesting Mijikenda women to move around topless  to attract tourists. Such sentiments by leaders will, in turn, give the coastal region residents reason to continue engaging in sex tourism.

A significant number of organizations have raised concerns over the sexual exploitation of young children and women in the coastal region. Nonetheless, the government and local leaders have not set any measures in place to curb the illicit trade. This is an indication that the government regards sex tourism as a significant boost for tourism numbers. The government would instead let the trade go on for the mere attraction of the tourist dollars.

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